One of the great things about travelling around in Turkey (at least where we visited) is that transportation is so accessible and cheap. All you have to do is hop in a dolmuş (a sort of mini-bus/taxi) and off you go. They pick people up along the road and in the towns and cities, and it just seems like they go everywhere. It’s so great because to do all the things we did on our holiday without the dolmuş, we’d probably have to rent a car or take expensive taxis. Anyway, I loved how easy and stress-free it was getting to all the great places we visited!
One lovely place we visited while we were staying in Kuşadası was a little mountain village called Şirince (pronounced ‘shirinjay’). The trip started with a beautiful and sunny drive up the mountains. On the hillsides there were pine trees and olive trees, and dry, sun-burnt grasses and shrubs. The landscape in this area of the world is quite different from any other place I’ve seen (on my admittedly rather limited travels). It’s obviously very different from the flatness of the American midwest, and it seems very dry and has a harsher look compared to the lush greenness of Ireland. But it certainly has its own beauty. I absolutely loved seeing all the olive trees in particular. They’re everywhere!
So, we arrived in the village and had a wander around. Now, lest you get too idyllic of a mental image, I have to tell you that Şirince is pretty full of tourists. It’s the sort of place that gets tour buses full of people off the cruise ships and foreign package holidays who want to see a ‘traditional Turkish village’. I’m not exactly sure how ‘traditional’ it is now, but all the same, it was lovely and so relaxing. There were tons of shops and stalls, mostly manned by old women selling traditional handmade Turkish crafts like lace and that sort of thing. There were also the dried heads of sunflowers that you could buy and pick out the seeds yourself, lots of dried herbs and spices.
One of the main perks of this little village is the fruit wine. You can sample wines in all varieties: peach, apple, fig, cherry, pomegranate, etc. There are lots of small ‘wine houses’ where you can get samples of lots of flavours. I think the most amazing thing about this is the fact that all these things grow in the area! I truly think Turkey is a food paradise. Just wandering around this village, you see trees everywhere weighed down by plump and juicy pomegranates and pears and all sorts of tasty things.
Unfortunately, the day we visited Şirince, there was a much hyped national referendum, to change (or not change) some elements of the Turkish constitution. So, since it was voting day, you couldn’t get any alcohol. It was a big disappointment, since that was our one-and-only chance to sample the goods. But we made the most of the day despite all that. We ate some gőzleme (crepes or pancakes) stuffed with cheese and aubergine/eggplant, drank tea and enjoyed the mountain air and bright sunshine. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.